Commenting on the GCSE results, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The fact that there has been a small overall fall in outcomes is to be expected and is the consequence of the changes to both the grading system in English and maths and changes to the accountability system.

“The fact that such relatively stable results have been achieved against a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety caused by the rushed reforms to the grading system and the ongoing resource pressures within schools is a great tribute to the hard work and dedication of the young people and their teachers.

“This year’s enforced changes to the grading of maths and English created great uncertainty for pupils, teachers, parents and employers. Schools have been forced largely to navigate the way for themselves largely due to the rushed and poorly planned reform timescale imposed by the Government.

“Fortunately they were able to come through for the young people involved, driven by the recognition of the importance of these examinations to the life chances of pupils.  The expectation that schools will continually plug the gap for Government failures simply cannot continue.

“Before rolling out the new grades to further subjects, the Government must learn from the mistakes of the last twelve months and provide clear and timely guidance to schools to prevent a repeat of the unnecessary anxiety, confusion and additional workload which has added to the pressures teachers are already facing.

“Once again the adverse impact of the EBacc is evident in the alarming drop in the number of students taking artistic, practical and creative subjects at GCSE.

“The NASUWT has long raised concerns about the EBacc depriving young people of the opportunity to take creative subjects in which many of them have the skills and talents to excel and despite the clear link of many of these subjects to careers and occupations in sectors in which the UK leads the field.

“This clearly shows the Government’s high-stakes accountability regime and its pointless EBacc measure is denying children the opportunity to access the broad and balanced curriculum to which they are entitled.”


Commenting on the Education Policy Institute’s Closing the Gap report into the progress made by the Government to narrow the pupil attainment gap, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

The findings of this report are sadly unsurprising. Factors which are common among pupils who are falling behind their peers include child poverty, insecure housing, poor physical and mental health among families and job insecurity. These have all seen an increase as a result of the Government’s austerity programme and reforms to welfare.

"Schools are striving to do the best for every child they teach, but schools alone cannot tackle these social issues and plug the gap made by cuts to wider services and basic support on which many families rely and which help to provide children with the stability they need in order to focus on their learning and achieve at school.

“The task of schools in closing the attainment gap is made even harder when teacher supply is in crisis as a result of attacks on teachers’ pay, working conditions and professionalism.

“Our children cannot afford to wait the three generations this report predicts it will take, on current trends, to close the pupil attainment gap. We need effective action from the Government on education, health, housing and the economy to tackle the root causes of the disadvantage and poverty which are key inhibitors to educational progression.”